THE UNDERCROFT – ART, SPACE AND POWER

by Laura Potts

Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.

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MATHS VERSUS MONET – ART HISTORY ON THE A LEVEL CURRICULUM

by Jess Howard

Last week it was announced that AQA, the last exam board to offer art history as an A level subject, has removed the course from its curriculum. The decision to remove the subject from A Level course choices means future students will no longer be able to study the subject at this level. A spokesman from the board said that the decision to remove the subject had “nothing to do with the importance of history of art”, but I find this hard to believe.Continue Reading

BLACK ERASURE IN ART

by Candice Nembhard

In the niche space we call the ‘art world’, the discrediting or downplaying of black artists has not gone unnoticed as it has undocumented. That’s not to say critical discussion of African/African diaspora art has not been made; it is to suggest however that favourable and more accessible criticism is blessed upon the dominant sphere of white, European Art. For many black artists, including the likes of Kerry James Marshall, publicising the potential racist nature of art history opens up the narrative of what really goes on in the art world.  

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MONEY AND MONA LISA – THE VALUE OF ART

by Jess Howard

My younger brother is 14, and with that is coming all manner of traditional 14 year old behaviours. Sulking, door slamming, wearing a can of Lynx per day, and spending eternity glued to his Xbox. In addition to this, he has also discovered the wonderful world of procrastinating on YouTube, and so we are being treated to a delightful array of narration on a daily basis.

During one particular conversation revolving around a group of people who seem to sit and chat rubbish for hours, with one relevant fact thrown in for good measure, he asked why the Mona Lisa was such a valuable painting. An interested and insightful question, but one we only arrived upon after he asked if Leonardo DiCaprio was around during the Renaissance period.Continue Reading

BODY HAIR IN ART HISTORY AND MODERN CULTURE

Content warning: nudity

by Jess Howard

Owing to a particularly traumatic experience with a bottle of hair removal cream, I recently started thinking about body hair. For years fashion photographs have been telling us that men and women alike should trim, wax, shave, and pluck in order to look beautiful and presentable. This opinion is reflected in the visual arts of today, with models seldom seen with body hair and advertising campaigns even choosing to show women shaving a hair free leg, to prevent the ultimate taboo of showing body hair in the ad itself. Today it seems body hair is off the menu, but how does this compare to artistic examples throughout history?Continue Reading

KYLIE JENNER’S WHEELCHAIR PHOTOSHOOT

by Jess Howard

The Kardashian/Jenner family are rarely far from the press. From Caitlyn Jenner’s sensational Vanity Fair cover early this year, to the recent birth of Saint West, they are seldom out of the news. Recently, it has been model and the youngest of the Kardashian sisters, Kylie Jenner, who has been in the limelight.

Causing controversy by taking part in a photoshoot in which she posed passive and sexually in a gold wheelchair, Jenner’s photoshoot, directed by photographer Steven Klein, and accompanying interview, were part of a feature in Interview magazine, and it is explicitly clear why the internet has reacted in such a passionate and infuriated way. Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE WORLD GOES POP

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by Carmina Masoliver

I was moved to go to this exhibit with its promise that it would move beyond the mainstream artists we think of when we think of pop art, such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Richard Hamilton, working in the 1960s and 70s. I enjoy the work of these artists, but having seen them all before, I was intrigued to see more women exhibited, as well as those across the globe.

The literature on the exhibition states it ‘expands the notion of pop art into a far wider geographical context, showing how different cultures and countries contributed to the movement.’ With Warhol’s famous Campbell soup cans we had a critique of consumerism, yet the images shown at The World Goes Pop aim to challenge social imbalances, including the role of women and civil rights. Here, I will discuss some of my highlights from the exhibition.Continue Reading

ART: WHY DOES IT MATTER?

by Jess Howard

With the threat of terrorist attacks and war seeming to dominate every newspaper front page and website, it can be easy to ask if we should still place any importance on the visual arts. With daily news telling us that more and more people are dying, starving, or becoming homeless, many may ask if we should concern ourselves with art at all. But, when we really consider it, we can see that an aversion to what may be deemed frivolous and unnecessary is actually completely impossible.Continue Reading

BODY ART IN THE WORK PLACE

by Jess Howard 

Covering the body with tattoos has been a tradition among multiple socio-economic groups for centuries. From identification to decoration, the act of adorning the skin with ink is in no way novel or unique. Day to day it is incredibly common to see tattoos on people of all ages, from the first tattoo immediately after the 18th birthday, to the person in their mid forties with an exquisite and elaborate full sleeve. In short, ink is everywhere.

Yet the stigma attached to visual tattoos in the work place shows minimal chance of disappearing. When I started my first ‘proper’ job, I was told that tattoos were not allowed to be visible, and even today, ten pieces of ink later, I find myself wearing long sleeves to interviews and asking if my potential employer would like me to cover them up. Even I, a woman who has long loved body art in all of its forms, assume that the stigma is still attached.Continue Reading

PORNOGRAPHY AS ART

by Jess Howard 

Earlier on this month, Playboy magazine announced that their publication will no longer be featuring nudity as of March 2016. Citing the rise of easy access to internet pornography, the company has decided to pull their famous images from the publication in a bid to reconcile their disintegrating readership with their increasing online audience, which went nudity free at the end of last year.

Playboy made a name for itself during the 1950s, when sex and nudity where far less mainstream and far more taboo. Having previously worked for Esquire, after leaving due to a financial disagreement (when he was denied a raise of $5) founder Hugh Hefner set up the publication from his home in Chicago, Illinois. Unsure as to whether or not the publication would thrive, the first magazine was undated in case a second issue was not produced. Having purchased a nude image of film star Marilyn Monroe, taken before she had found success in the entertainment industry, Hefner placed it on the cover. As we now know, the magazine was to be a huge success.

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HOW MUCH DOES A PAINTING REALLY COST?

by Jess Howard

Last week a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin sold at auction for £197 million.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo, which translates to ‘When will you marry me?’, features two Tahitian women sat on a stretch of grass in front of a tree. We see the islands formidable mountains and an expanse of green fields behind them. The sale set a record for the most amount of money paid at auction for a piece of art. The work knocked Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players off of the top spot, which sold for £158 million back in 2011.Continue Reading